Well, That’s New


Richmond – Earl’s Court – Fulham Broadway – Kensington – Hammersmith – Richmond

I’ve lived in London for four years now, which is about how long I stay somewhere before moving on, but I still don’t consider myself a Londoner. I do have one thing in common with the vast majority of native Londoners. I’ve not actually been to any of the sights or museums. I thought it was time this changed, so I headed off to The Victoria & Albert Museum.

My usual route for this part of town is just over an hour on two buses. A quick check (truth be told it was quite long and involved, but I’ll skip over that) of the TfL Travel Planner gave me an alternative using bits of the Underground I’d not tried before and which took precisely the same time, so I thought I’d explore a bit.

As is quite common the first bus, into Richmond, was straightforward to board. Again, there was a buggy in the wheelchair space, but we easily negotiated to share. What wasn’t usual was just how smooth the driver was. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a bus where I’ve not been thrown around corners or jolted as the bus stopped. I decided this warranted a commendation e-mail to TfL even before the ride finished.

Sadly, this wasn’t the only reason to note this trip. When we got to Richmond the ramp wouldn’t deploy. I’ve not been stuck on a bus before. I’m guessing it must be rare for the ramp to fail between getting on and wanting to get off again. The driver did his best, but there was just no way the ramp would cooperate. In the end he pulled very close to the kerb, kneeled the bus, and with the help of another passenger I bumped down the step. A bit hairy, but really the only choice.

The Underground to Earl’s Court was boring, in that wranglers got me on and off the train efficiently, but I’m sure that the District line gets more bumpy and uncomfortable each time I use it. The sooner the new trains arrive the better.

There was some debate at Earl’s Court about whether I’d need a ramp for the next train. In the end it was one of the new S-Type trains with level access. Although I was met at Fulham Broadway, assistance was delightfully unnecessary. I’m looking forward to getting used to this.

The final bus on the outward leg was totally and pleasantly unremarkable.

I’ve heard a lot of debate about Exhibition Road and the merits or otherwise of Shared Space. This is supposed to be an exemplar of good design, but I must admit I have mixed feelings. It’s certainly an aesthetically pleasing place to be, but as a wheelchair user all the tactile paving is uncomfortable and the street furniture a pain. We have to be honest too, the cars still own the road.

The other thing that annoyed me is the the number of entrances I passed to South Kensington tube station, each one apparently mocking me with convenience, ease, efficient travel and complete lack of access. I don’t know why it got to me today particularly, but it did.

I opted for the more usual two bus return journey. The first bus was one of the new Boris Buses, which I was interested to note after recent reports, ran all the way on it’s batteries. They’re clearly not all broken.

There’s not really much conclusion to be drawn from this trip, no earth shattering revelations, but I think it is interesting that after over 100 recorded journeys there are still new and creative variations for things to go wrong.


About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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